This year was a good time in the budding romance between social media and marketing automation (MA) platforms.
Digital marketers continued to explore ways to integrate social media with traditional lead generation, and many automation vendors began rolling out software features to encourage that integration. The relationship can’t quite be described as a marriage yet, but the label “going steady” might apply.
What Happened in 2012?
Here are some of the key software improvements SiriusDecisions’ Jay Famico observed this year:
- Schedule social media postings within an automated workflow to enhance efficiency
- Drive alternative engagement opportunities through polls and voting capabilities to increase engagement
- Offer social registration for high-value content to improve conversions
- Use of social media interactions (e.g. assets downloaded through social media) to improve segmentation
So What’s Expected in 2013?
Industry experts have noted several marketing automation trends which I believe will have a positive impact on the marketers who use social media:
1) MA vendors are consolidating, which should help them focus on developing feature sets in key areas such as social media integration. When I did my blog post on marketing automation vendors with social media features, I was struck by the lack of consistency between the social features offered in each platform. Consolidation might provide vendors with the resources to develop more complete sets of social media-related functions. A simpler competitive field might also reduce distractions for the product management teams at MA vendors.
2) The use of social media to distribute content will continue to increase, driving demand for social media integration in MA. According to a recent post by Joe Pulizzi (Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs), 87% of marketers used social networks to distribute content in 2012, as compared to 74% in 2011. There no reason to doubt that this trend will continue in 2013. This is a positive development for socially savvy marketing automation vendors, who will see the market reward them for developing the features and reporting tools that improve integration between social media, email, blogging, white papers, video, etc.
Learn more about trends related to content in CMI and MarketingProf’s excellent presentation: 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.
3) The continued integration of workflows into MA platforms will allow marketers to remain compliant with corporate approval processes, while freeing up time for more social engagement. Although this MA trend doesn’t initially appear relevant to social media, it will actually encourage social media engagement. For example, routing content for review is an important and inescapable duty for marcom teams. The content that must be reviewed can range from lengthy whitepapers to simple tweets or status updates. All this routing and approving is a project management challenge, and the risk associated with publishing unapproved content is significant.
Any tool that simplifies workflows will help marketing departments engage more proactively in the social space, deploying content that is approved and truly ready for distribution. SiriusDecisions mentions this trend in their post, “Six 2013 Predictions for Marketing Automation.”
My Wish List – Two Trends I’d Like to See Reflected in Marketing Automation Platforms
During my research for this blog post, I was reminded of two digital marketing trends that could have a significant influence on future MA platforms.
1) Showrooming. This term describes when consumers visit physical stores to try products, then check a mobile device for the best price online. Social content such as reviews and blog posts are important forms of content consumed by showrooming prospects. How will MA platforms – particularly those in B2C spaces, address this? What can MA vendors do for marketers who are seeking to either retain customers in their store, or conversely, capture a mobile shopper who’s standing in the store of a competitor?
I was glad to see that MA provider Aprimo blogged about showrooming recently. I’m sure all automation software vendors are aware of the trend. I’m interested to see how they’ll begin to address the reporting and tracking challenges showrooming creates.
2) Social advertising. This term often is used to describe advertising in social networks. MA vendors have begun supporting social advertising by offering landing pages with social sign-on, and other features mentioned at the beginning of this post. But as Eloqua’s CTO Steve Woods pointed out at the recent Eloqua Experience conference, what users really need are ads with content tailored to their stage in the buying cycle.
MA vendors are already exploring how to tailor website content to visitors based on their profile in an MA system. It stands to reason that customizing advertising content is a logical next step. What will that look like? And very importantly, how will those results be tracked?
What trends do you see happening in 2013? I look forward to your comments.